Internet drug sales to U.S. pet owners questioned

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The AVMA occasionally receives questions from veterinarians who believe their clients have purchased—without their authorization—certain prescription-only animal drugs off Australian Internet pharmacy Web sites.

After some research, the Association found that the question of supply of unapproved products within the United States would appear to fall under the purview of the Food and Drug Administration, rather than Australian officials.

The AVMA contacted several Australian governmental agencies, including those with national oversight of animal drugs and those regulating pharmacists and veterinarians, to better understand where U.S. veterinarians might submit their concerns.

The AVMA learned that some Australian Internet businesses are retail outlets rather than pharmacies, because the products they sell to Australians are not prescription products. Heartworm preventive drugs are an example of products that may be sold at retail outlets in Australia. In contrast, Australian prescription products read at the top of their labels "Prescription Animal Remedy."

Nevertheless, importation of foreign animal drugs that are not FDA-approved is forbidden. An unapproved drug is considered any drug, including foreign-made versions of U.S.-approved drugs, that have not received FDA approval to demonstrate they meet the federal requirements for safety and effectiveness. Veterinarians may submit concerns to the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine by fax, (301) 827-1498, or e-mail wbargoatcvm [dot] fda [dot] org.